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Orthodox, Eastern Rite Christians Mark Christmas

Patriarch Aleksii II celebrating mass (file photo) (epa) 7 January 2006 -- It's Christmas today for Eastern Rite and many Orthodox Christians around the world.

Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksei II led a service at the Christ the Savior Cathedral near the Kremlin last night to mark the Russian Orthodox Christmas.

Some 5,000 people, including Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovskii and Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, gathered in the cathedral to celebrate the start of the holiday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a Christmas service in the Siberian city of Yakutsk, where he was on a working visit yesterday.

Other Orthodox Christians, Armenians, and Eastern Rite followers are marking Christmas around the world.

Christmas is 7 January for Christians in the Holy Land, Russia, and other churches that use the Julian calendar.

The Gregorian calendar is used by Catholics and Protestants and commonly in secular life.